Let me start this post with a disclaimer: I think first looks are an amazing experience — my husband, Rob, and I did one before our wedding ceremony and neither of us have ever regretted that decision. It is, hands down, one of my favorite moments from our big day and I love looking at the pictures and remembering what we talked about during those few private minutes of an otherwise fast-moving day.
That being said, I am the first to recognize they aren’t for every couple. I always ask after a couple’s initial inquiry if it’s something they are considering and like to chat with them further about it during our consultation. There are a lot of misconceptions about a first look (mostly stemming from an old wive’s tale of bad luck!) and few realize how many advantages there truly are if you do decide it’s a good fit for your wedding day. I simply want to educate each of my couples so they can discuss what is best for them. Below you’ll find just a few of the reasons I would recommend considering a first look for your wedding day:
More time, together.
Wedding days are about one thing: marrying two people who are ridiculously in love. Sure, there is the beautiful dress and fun band to dance to at your reception, but at the core, your family and friends came from across the country to see you join together as a couple. By doing a first look, you will have so much more of your day to spend with one another. Think about it like this — if you’re doing a 5:00PM ceremony with no first look, the first time you’ll truly be able to talk on your wedding day is around 6:00PM when you’re pronounced man and wife! If you did opt for a first look, we would get your portraits started well before the ceremony, giving you literally hours of additional time together. Which, if you think about it, is really what this day is all about!
Enjoy a private, intimate moment with your soon-to-be spouse.
Wedding days are, in a word, insane. You go from hair and makeup, to putting on your dress, to the ceremony, family pictures, and then the reception. It barely leaves time to breathe, let alone time a moment to kiss, laugh, and squeeze the hand of your groom to tell him how excited you are for this day. A first look is designed to do that — as the photographers, we will be the only people in the general vicinity as we choose a private location at your venue. Even then, we stand far back and pop on a zoom lens so that you can have time to kiss, laugh, squeeze hands, and tell each other how excited you are for this day. It may some of the only alone time you get on this day.
Bonus: I think Abby Grace said it so eloquently: “People who want to wait for the ceremony to see each other are more looking forward to the reaction than the tradition itself. In my humble opinion though, the most thorough way to capture that precious reaction is by setting aside time for portraits beforehand. In my experience? It doesn’t change it one bit. It’s still JUST as big of a deal! Guys, your bride is still taking that walk down the aisle to marry YOU! Seeing each other beforehand doesn’t make that walk any less of a big deal. Ladies, your groom is still going to get that ear-to-ear smile when he sees you on the arm of your dad. It’s just as big of a moment, just with a little less anxiety.”
Eliminate your nerves.
Bride and grooms alike are nearly always nervous before the elusive “walk down the aisle”. It is such a big moment with so much build up; you’re excited, anxious, and scared all at the same. A first look is great way to help eliminate some of those emotions and relax a bit before it happens. It actually allows you to focus on connecting with your groom as you walk down the aisle instead of being caught up in the grandeur of the moment.
Allow for more pictures and more time with your guests!
One of my favorite reasons for doing a first look (as a self proclaimed type A personality) is how much more smoothly it can help your day run. After your first look, we will take some time to get couples pictures of you and your groom. Once those are complete, we will find your family and wedding party and do those images as well — meaning that after your ceremony, you will actually get to enjoy your cocktail hour! It also means that you can add as much time to your timeline pre-ceremony as you’d like for portraits — no feeling rushed by the time constraints of cocktail hour.
Bonus: Depending on the time of your ceremony, sometimes a first look may be the only time you have to get couples portraits! Late ceremonies (especially in fall/winter) can mean that your ceremony ends after sunset when we don’t have any natural light to work with.
Have perfect hair & makeup.
Less of a touchy, feel-y reason for doing a first look is that your hair and makeup is perfect! You’ve just gotten it finished and the next thing you do is your first look, so it is literally the freshest it will be all day. My wedding day was 90 degrees… in MAY! I don’t know about you, but I am not one of those people that “glows” — I sweat! It’s not cute. Also, I cried like a baby during my ceremony so much that even the best waterproof makeup didn’t stand a chance.
So while I may kindly try nudge to you in this direction, I still truly believe that each couple has to decide what is best for them — don’t let anyone spoil your vision for your wedding day; you only get one of these and it should be perfect!